Besides the return of Sam Darnold and the pro debut of rookie wideout Denzel Mims, there was one other big changeup for the Jets offense that seemed to make a potentially game-changing difference in their MetLife Stadium game against Buffalo on Sunday. And that was Head Coach Adam Gase turning his play-calling duties over to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
"Yeah, it's been about eight or nine years," Gase said when asked after the Jets' 18-10 loss how odd it may have felt to not be calling the plays himself. "I did it one other time in a preseason game, like a fourth preseason game," he said. "It's different. It's definitely different."
So was the Jets' intriguing production in building a 10-0 lead, gaining 186 yards, notching 15 first downs, and controlling the clock for almost 19 of the first half's 30 minutes. They moved the ball on their first three drives 67, 46 and 80 yards, to an opening field goal, a loss on downs just inside the Bills' 20-yard line, and La'Mical Perine's 5-yard pylon-diving touchdown for the Green & White's first red-zone TD in seven quarters (and Perine's first TD of his NFL career).
"I've been thinking about it for a while, just trying to figure out what's going on, how come we're not consistently producing," Gase said. "I just felt like it was the time to do it, see how our guys would respond, what our offensive staff could put together. It seemed like things were going well in the first half. The big thing is it allowed me to take a step back and focus on every phase of our organization."
Neither Gase nor Loggains revealed the play-calling switch publicly, not to the team's beat reporters and not to the CBS announcing crew of Greg Gumbel and Rick Gannon. But Gase and Loggains had gameplanned such a move for a while, and the offense was ready to make the transition as well.
"Obviously, we practiced it all week, so I was comfortable with it," Darnold said. "With Dowell calling plays, it was just going out there and executing. It's the same thing for us as players. You know, it's getting a play call and going out and executing. That's it."
Unfortunately, "that's it" could also describe the Jets' offense for the game. The first half was pretty much it.
For the final 30 minutes, with the Bills "sending seven- and eight-man pressures, playing man coverage and suffocating the box," as Darnold put it, the Jets' numbers fell way off: 16 plays, 4 yards of offense, 2 first downs and 6:33 of possession time.
"That's one of the reasons why I'm interested in watching this, to kind of see what changed for us," Gase said of the reasons behind the tale of two halves. "All of a sudden either we weren't executing as well or they just made better plays than us. It's hard to give you that answer just from watching it from series to series."
Will the play-calling assignment continue for the Jets as they return to the Atlantic Health Training Center and prepare for their difficult trip to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs, who are, of course, the defending Super Bowl champs?
"I'm really trying to focus on one week at a time right now," Gase said. "I asked Dowell to do it, I've been talking to him about doing it for a few weeks now, and he did it. We'll probably have another conversation, he'll give his opinion and we'll talk through it. We'll figure out next week tomorrow."